Getting away from it all!

Last weekend my parents came down to Florida to visit. I haven’t seen my family since we moved down last August, so it was really nice to spend some time together. Guests are always a great excuse to get out and explore someplace you’ve never been before. We have heard about Cabbage Key and thought this might be the perfect adventure all of us would enjoy.

Cabbage Key is accessible only by boat, so we headed down to Pine Island to take the ferry over. Since all of us had skipped breakfast, we were ready for a bite to eat in the famous Dollar Bill Bar. After a delicious meal, we checked out the room with all the dollar bills, learned the story behind why dollar bills are taped to the walls (fishermen would tape an autographed bill guaranteeing an ongoing bar tab), then headed out to explore the rest of the island. I climbed the water tower and took in the spectacular view. We walked the trail counting all the gopher tortoises we saw - I believe the final number was 8. I kept my eye out for sea otters, but had no luck spotting one.

We did however get get to say hello to two manatees! I have always loved these sea cows and was thrilled to finally see some in the wild.I visited Blue Springs years ago, the only time I have ever seen manatees in the wild. After checking out the gift shop and waving bye to the manatees, it was time to get back on the boat.

Stops to North Captiva resulted in watching dolphins swimming close by. They hung around for a bit before swimming away, but it was delightful to watch these seemingly happy creatures enjoy themselves. When we arrived at the dock, a gentleman and his golden retriever came over to greet his family who had arrived for a visit. My husband and I shouted “We Are” and received the correct response - “Penn State!”. As you already know, I’m a sucker for golden retrievers, the fact that this one’s owner was a Penn State fan made me love her even more! We fussed over Cheyenne (the dog), and chatted about Penn State, Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania. It’s always fun to meet new people and talk about home and our favorite college football team, the Penn State Nittany Lions.


Our next stop brought a family with a yellow lab on board. A young pup, she was part of a family with 4 children. I have no doubt this girl is living a dog’s dream life! Cuddling two dogs - I definitely got my dog fix on this adventure! We arrived safely back on land and went in search of ice cream - my all time favorite treat!

It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday - with family, wildlife, nature, a quaint island and view that simply can’t be described as anything but paradise! I understand now why so many folks rave about what a gem Cabbage Key is. While we chose to only spend the afternoon there, you can rent cottages or stay at the local inn. While there are television, there is no cable, satellite or DVD players. Cell phone reception is spotty and no landline phones are provided in any of the rooms. It really is a quiet and tranquil. Sometimes the simple things are the best experiences!

Here are a few of my cell phone shots I captured from this wonderful day!

Thanks for reading!

 
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Cabbage Key
Water tower at Cabbage Key
Dollar Bill Bar at Cabbage Key
Water Tower view at Cabbage Key
Cabbage Key
Shower with a friend - Cabbage Key
Cabbage Key

The Moment it all Clicked

I’m standing on the beach, it’s the end of the day and Mother Nature has graced us with yet another beautiful sunset. It’s a bit chilly and windy, but I don’t mind. After all, this is probably one of my most favorite places in the whole wide world. Not only that, but I’m here with one of my 3 furry best friends. It doesn’t get any better than this. Or does it?

I just wrapped up photographing Kita, my rescue terrier mix. I’ve had this vision for a long time now of a dog on a beach at sunset. For one reason or another, in the short time I’ve been in Florida, this hasn't happened yet. It’s either been too hot, the red tide so bad you can’t breathe or simply just an unspectacular sunset. But finally one night, it all came together for me.

I knew I nailed the shot before I even looked at the back of my camera. It’s simply the greatest feeling when that happens. But it was much more than just that. I was overcome with emotions as I realized everything I had been through in the last year led me to this moment. I picked Kita up and started swinging her around in circles laughing with delight. She was ecstatic too, though I’m not sure she understood yet why. I hugged her over and over again, thanking her for being with me on this journey. As the sun dipped below the horizon, I watched the last of the daylight filled with joy and gratitude. There was no doubt in my mind, I was right where I was supposed to be. Doing exactly what I was meant to do.

How did it take me so long to figure this out? Three things I have always loved - dogs, beaches and sunsets - at the same time in front of my camera. It can’t possibly be any better than that! Now, it’s clear to me why I felt lost for so long. Why I struggled creatively for months wondering if I would ever want to pick up my camera and photograph again. I needed to feel sadness, confusion and emptiness in order to really hear what was in my heart. It was hard at times. Maddening even. I’ve shed a lot of tears, thrown plenty of temper tantrums and oh, so many times, swore I was going to simply. just. give. Up.

But dreams have a way of nagging you, don’t they? And here, on the gulf coast of Mexico, I realized I was making mine come true. Everything simply, well, just clicked for me.

Thanks for reading!

xoxo

 
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terrier mix on Florida beach